Scream already made my list of favorite works of metafiction, and I hinted there at the awesomeness of this opening. It fully earns a spot here too.
Last week, with Romeo and Juliet, I talked about an opening that lulls us into a light mood before the weight of the story slams down on us. This week we've got one that hits the ground running in the best way.
If you somehow haven't seen it, Scream is the original meta slasher movie, picking apart the conventions of the genre as they were at the time while being an effective and terrifying entry in its own right.
This opening establishes both sides of that equation in minutes.
Yes, if you're completely innocent of Scream, even talk of the opening sequence has spoilers.
We open on Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore), at home alone making popcorn.
Then he starts dropping hints that he can see her, getting her progressively more freaked out until revealing that he has her boyfriend, Steve, tied up on her porch.
Then there’s this:
They play horror movie trivia, Casey loses, and she and Steve are murdered in what is, off the top of my head, one of the scariest slasher movie death scenes ever.
…Hmm, I feel another list coming on.
Scariest, as in her parents come home in the middle, and she tries unsuccessfully to call for them through punctured lungs.
That’s how we’re introduced to Scream; with playful banter about real world horror movies and then the brutal death scene of what we’re led to believe will be our final girl.
This opening instantly promises a movie that acknowledges conventions and breaks them, while being generally terrifying, and that’s exactly what the rest delivers. It’s the cinematic equivalent of how ever novelist wants to nail the first five pages.
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